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Introduction: Mother-to-child transmission of HIV threatens the survival of children of below five years of age. Health workers play an important role in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV.
Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the programme for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Benin City, Edo State from the perspective of the health workers involved in the programme.
Methodology: This was a qualitative study evaluating the PMTCT programme in Benin City from the perspective of health workers and PMTCT programme officers. Data was collected through key informant interviews held with health workers at seven health facilities providing comprehensive PMTCT services. Key informant interviews were also held with government officials supervising the PMTCT programme in the state.
Results: Fifteen key informant interviews were conducted with health workers and PMTCT programme officers in the state. The key informants had been involved in the PMTCT programme for between three years and eight years. The respondents identified several benefits of the PMTCT programme during the course of the study. The benefits included reduction in stigmatisation, improved quality of life for HIV positive mothers and reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Several challenges to the implementation of the programme were identified by the respondents including inadequate manpower, stock-outs of antiretroviral medications and patients’ preference for home deliveries. Recommendations to overcome these challenges included increased programme funding, training and re-training of health workers, sustained mass media campaigns to reduce stigmatisation of persons living with HIV among others.
Conclusion: The health workers were generally positive in their perception of the programme for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Benin City, Edo State as the programme had provided numerous benefits for the patients, the community in addition to upgrading existing health facilities. Factors hindering the implementation of the programme from the health workers’ perspective were staff shortages, inadequate supply of drugs and other commodities and poor adherence by patients. Achieving the goal of reducing mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Benin City and Nigeria as a whole requires combined efforts by all stakeholders including patients, health workers, members of the community, non-governmental organisations and the various tiers of government.